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Palm Column

Which Palm shall I carry?

by Shawn Barnett
December 1999, issue 31

The good news is I have narrowed it down to three. Of the many Palms I have around here for testing, photography, and nostalgia, I've narrowed my choice for regular carry down to my blue Visor, my special Geek-Edition clear Palm VII, and my Palm Vx. Yes, I know, it sounds like the wail of the poor little rich boy who doesn't know which toy to play with today, but the question is a good one, as more and more Palm devices enter the market. Many people who have finally decided on a Palm OS computer are now faced with the question of which one to pick from the list below:

  • Palm III
  • Palm IIIe
  • Palm IIIe SE
  • Palm IIIx
  • Palm V
  • Palm Vx
  • Palm VII
  • Handspring Visor
  • Handspring Visor Deluxe
  • TRGpro
  • Symbol SPT-1500
  • Symbol SPT-1700
  • Qualcomm pdQ Phone
  • IBM WorkPad c5
  • IBM WorkPad c3

That's a total of fifteen Palm OS models currently available for sale today, with a total of nineteen models produced since the first Pilot was born. So narrowing my choices to three was understandably difficult.

Before I go on, I always carry my PalmPilot Personal with the 2MB upgrade protected in its POD case. I keep it in my backpack no matter what as an emergency backup. It can attach to the Palm modem for email if my main machine fails, and it stores all my basics with no problem. I upgrade its contents on a monthly basis. Its batteries need changing only tri-monthly. Amazing.

My plans are to switch completely to the Visor when it gets a modem and a backup module, but that time has not arrived yet. Its USB HotSync is so fast. I can sync and backup what used to take twenty minutes with my Palm IIIx in a mere two minutes via the Visor's USB port.

Despite my initial enthusiasm about the color Visors, now that I have one, I see the beauty of the Graphite. I still like the color, but find myself envying the green model. Yeah, green. With envy. How appropriate.

The Springboard slot promises to open up a world of options for the Visor, options I'm itching to take advantage of. Still, even without those options, it has a great calendar, world clock, and calculator; nothing I can't get elsewhere, but it's nice to have things built in in case of a battery failure. Still, the TRGpro offers expansion and external storage now, what about that? It's nothing against the TRGpro, I love everything about it, because I love the Palm IIIx with its flip lid, but I need to experience other form factors. It will definitely be an occasional carry, perhaps the new main backup on a trip.

Palm VII
I'm really happy I decided to buy a Palm VII at PalmSource. They were priced right and came with a clear case. It was time to give the Seven a real life test. Take it with me everywhere. Use it all the time. It has proven to be quite a boon, and as I predicted in my August review of the product, developers have not left it alone. It immediately proved its worth at PalmSource, allowing me, with the help of ThinAirMail, to check my ISP email without having to go back to the hotel. I didn't even have to download all of it, I just looked at the sender and subject lines to decide what was important. Then I could answer any of it wirelessly. Setup was so easy, I could hardly believe it. It does use up the bytes, about 6K per average transaction, according to ThinAirApps, but I only need it every so often. The rest of the time, I can use the traditional Palm Modem with the Seven to download email via MultiMail, and save. I quickly check for movies, occasionally read the news, but not often; I use AvantGo for that, HotSyncing one of the other units in the morning. Today I looked up where an overseas associate was calling me from, learning that he is in North America by getting the number off my Nokia's caller ID feature and running it through And on weekends, I'll even avoid turning on the stupid desktop computer and quickly check email with ThinAirMail. Yep, there's that ThinAirApp again. Great tool.

So the Seven sounds great. Why would I need anything else? Well. I don't suppose I would, if they had just put more than 2MB aboard. I like to have at least half of my data space left, I suppose that's left over from when all I had was a 20MB disk, and over half meant no extra swap space on my Windows machine. Whatever the reason, I want more space on the Seven.

Palm Vx
So that's why I also have the Vx. Slim, metallic, curvaceous, sexy. Those beautiful black eyes--I mean pixels. Who needs a reason? The Vx is beyond seductive. And fast. It hides a hot 20MHz processor in that supple skin. Grrrowl. It is an easy replacement for my TRG-enhanced Palm IIIx, with that light weight, ample space, and liquid ink screen. Add a modem, and it can do everything I use the IIIx for. Slide it into an E&B Slipper V case, and I even have a flip lid--not as simply practical as the hard plastic lid, but a lot more elegant. Why would I carry the other two at all? Two words: Wireless. Springboard.

So which do I carry? I carry all three.

Shawn Barnett can be reached via e-mail at

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